Critically evaluates assumptions of creativity by exploring the dynamism of southern Vietnamese traditional music
For artists, creativity plays a powerful role in understanding, confronting, and negotiating the crises of the present. Seeding the Tradition explores conflicting creativities in traditional music in Hõ Chí Minh City, the Mekong Delta, and the Vietnamese diaspora, and how they influence contemporary southern Vietnamese culture. The book centers on the ways in which musicians of đón ca tài tù, a "music for diversion," practice creativity or sáng tạo in early 21st-century southern Vietnam. These musicians draw from long-standing theories of primarily Daoist creation while adopting strategically from and also reacting to a western neo-liberal model of creativity focused primarily—although not exclusively—on the individual genius. They play with metaphors of growth, development, and ruin to not only maintain their tradition but keep it vibrant in the rapidly-shifting context of modern Vietnam. With ethnographic descriptions of zither lessons in Hõ Chi Minh City, outdoor music cafes in Cãn Thơ, and television programs in Đõng Tháp, Seeding the Tradition offers a rich description of southern Vietnamese sáng tạo and suggests revised approaches to studying creativity in contemporary ethnomusicology.
List of Figures • Note on Pronunciation • Introduction • Chapter 1: Framing Contested Creativities • Chapter 2: Creativity in Ethnomusicology • Chapter 3: The Seed of Creativity in Southern Vietnam • Chapter 4: Portrait of Đn Ca Tài T • Chapter 5: Playing with Metaphor • Chapter 6: Developing Creativity • Chapter 7: Tradition, Still Remains • Chapter 8: Creativity in New Directions • Conclusion • Glossary • References
"Through the fascinating discussion and redefinition of the ethnographic concept of creativity, Alexander Cannon, an outsider armed with an insider's understanding, portrays beautifully and compellingly the relevant vitality of đn ca tài t as a contemporary living soul in southern Vietnam."~PQ Phan, professor of music/composition, Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music
"This study effectively blends vivid ethnography, consideration of historical contexts, and detailed musical analysis. The attention paid to Vietnamese-language concepts deftly highlights how musicians think about their art."~Helen Rees, professor of ethnomusicology, UCLA